The Tea Dragon Society

The Tea Dragon SocietyThe Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How could I not love this, when it combines dragons and tea and keeping old traditions alive and wonderful artwork? Each “chapter” represents one of the 4 seasons. The artwork in this large picture-book sized hardcover is mostly earth tones with lovely vines and flowers. This is a gentle read for younger readers, perhaps 6-12. It includes 7 pages of “extracts from the Tea Dragon Handbook” giving us facts about tea dragon societies, tea dragons and what they eat and the kinds of flowers and herbs they produce, with drawings and specifics on 8 different tea dragons: Jasmine, Rooibos, Chamomile, Ginseng, Earl Grey, Hibiscus, Ginger, and Peppermint. I can think of at least two that should be added: Lavender and Calendula. The author is an illustrator and graphic novelist from New Zealand. I can see the Maori influence in her characters. There is also a card game based on this book, and I just might have to get it!

Description from School Library Journal: Greta is a young blacksmith apprentice who wonders whether her mother’s craft is still relevant in contemporary society. When she rescues a little lost dragon in the marketplace and returns it to its owners, Greta learns about another fading art form—the care of tea dragons, small creatures who grow tea leaves out of their horns and antlers. She becomes fascinated with the enchanting dragons and their caretakers, and begins to appreciate how traditional crafts can create their own kind of magic by enriching lives, including hers. This book is wonderfully inclusive, and depicts a distinct and expressive cast of LGBTQIA characters and people of color.

FukuFuku: Kitten Tales 1

FukuFuku: Kitten Tales 1FukuFuku: Kitten Tales 1 by Kanata Konami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 rounded up. I love Chi’s Sweet Home, so when I saw this I took it to read on my lunch break. Same cute illustrations that really capture what being a cat is all about. But the story, a Japanese grandmother reminiscing about her cat’s kittenhood, lacks the emotional impact of the Chi stories. Very low key, just a kitten and new owner getting to know each other. We follow FukuFuku through her first year. I liked the segments based on holidays – Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s, etc. And the dream sequence as FukuFuku (Alice) in Wonderland was cute.

Description: Vignettes in the life of a kitten and her doting owner, wherein even the most mundane things appear exciting and fresh (and sometimes unpleasant or scary), as we discover the world from a tiny cat’s point of view.

All’s Faire in Middle School

All's Faire in Middle SchoolAll’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I took this home to read last summer when it came to the library in a box of advance reading copies of several new children’s books. So this review is based on an uncorrected proof, even though the book has now been published. Huzzah! I thought it was delightful! I wasn’t homeschooled, but I think anyone who has ever been to Middle School or Junior High can relate. I don’t know anyone who felt like they fit in at that age! Impy’s experiences with her family at the Faire give her some valuable tools though – she has had to get used to interacting with people, and projecting a persona. And she has a supportive family – even if they are different! Now she just needs to figure out who SHE really is. Themes include friendship, family, how to handle your emotions, fitting in, bullying, and how to make amends when you make mistakes. Target audience: ages 9-12.

Description: Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire, and she’s eager to begin her own training as a squire. First, though, she’ll need to prove her bravery. Luckily Impy has just the quest in mind—she’ll go to public school after a life of being homeschooled! But it’s not easy to act like a noble knight-in-training in middle school. Impy falls in with a group of girls who seem really nice (until they don’t) and starts to be embarrassed of her thrift shop apparel, her family’s unusual lifestyle, and their small, messy apartment. Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.